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I just finished watching Korean Drama Suspicious Partner, which aired from May 10 to July 13, 2017. The drama starred Ji Chang Wook as No Ji Wook and Nam Ji Hyun as Eun Bong Hee. Choi Tae Joon starred as Ji Eun Hyuk, Ji Wook’s former friend, and Nara starred as Cha Yoo Jung, Ji Wook’s ex-girlfriend. Dong Ha plays Jung Hyun Soo, the serial killer.
Suspicious Partner was about the law and the people that help to make sure that it is upheld, that the guilty pay for their crime and the innocent are freed. It also sets out to show the damage that can occur when the law is not properly upheld.
Eun Bong Hee, our heroine, is a bright law student that has a great future in front of her. Currently interning at the Prosecutor’s Office, she recently lost her boyfriend to another woman and was ‘outed’ as a cheater. Not letting any of it keep her down, Bong Hee mildly harasses her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend, and works hard at her internship.
She has the misfortune of ‘seeing’ a killer dumping a body one night, but because she did not have her glasses on, she didn’t actually see anything. The murderer caught her looking and goes to her apartment to silence her. Luckily, she has gone to a convenience store at the time, but her cheating ex-boyfriend is in her home when the murderer arrives. He is killed instead, and she is unjustly accused of the murder.
No one believes that she is innocent except for No Ji Wook, who is her supervisor at her internship, an accidental one night stand where nothing really happened, and the man who is prosecuting her for the murder. He ends up stating that he will not indict Bong Hee because someone is obviously attempting to frame her for the murder.
Bong Hee is released, and double jeopardy protects her from being prosecuted again. No one believes that she is innocent. She spends the next two years paying for a crime that she didn’t commit, slowly spiraling towards a future with no work, because no one will hire her, and no home. She has sworn to find the actual murderer, and pays for a sign to be put up every week asking for anyone with information about the murder to call her.
No Ji Wook was forced to resign when he let Bong Hee go free, especially since the Chief Prosecutor was the victim’s father and believed that Bong Hee should be punished. He has spent the past two years working in his adoptive father’s law firm, side by side with the man that he believed caused his girlfriend to cheat on him, and two years later he decides to quit and create his own law firm.
Ji Wook begins to interact with Bong Hee on a daily basis; she has spent the past two years pining away for him, yet keeping her distance out of guilt. It is only when she decides to forget him and begins to distance herself, that he realizes that the killer is out there and stalking her. Ji Wook urges Bong Hee to come work for him and to live in his home until the killer is caught. The two investigate the crime, even as they grow the law firm and take on clients.
One such client is Jung Hyun Soo, a man who is accused of the violent murder of a famous chef. He asks that Bong Hee defend him, which she urges her law firm to do, because she knows what it is to be unjustly accused of a crime. Ji Wook and Bong Hee get Hyun Soo freed, but Ji Wook soon realizes that Hyun Soo lied about his alibi and was guilty of the crime. He begins to investigate him more carefully, but hides the truth of Hyun Soo’s culpability from Bong Hee because he does not want her feeling guilty for letting a killer go free.
Bong Hee soon realizes that Hyun Soo is actually the person that killed her ex-boyfriend 2 years ago.
Thus begins a game of cat and mouse, where the team chases Hyun Soo, and Hyun Soo attacks a member of their team to get them to back off. He is ultimately arrested when Ji Wook’s adoptive father plants a weapon in Hyun Soo’s home. This is after the team has decided not to use such dirty tactics.
While eluding capture, Hyun Soo is hit by one of the people he was trying to murder, and goes into a coma.
The team investigate Hyun Soo’s motives, and realize that a young high-school girl was raped 13 years ago, and no one was prosecuted because the prosecutor in charge, Bong Hee’s ex-boyfriend’s father, decided not to indict these sons of rich families. Hyun Soo is now taking revenge on the seven culprits that were involved in the gang rape of the young girl who ended up killing herself.
When Jung Hyun Soo awakens, he has amnesia; he regains his memory when he sees a picture of that girl. Although he tries to escape, he is captured. In interrogation, he admits to killing the ex-boyfriend, which incites the Chief Prosecutor’s thirst for revenge. The prosecutor takes off with Hyun Soo and is quickly overpowered by the younger man; thankfully, Ji Wook and Bong Hee are there to capture Hyun Soo who will now go to trial.
During trial, Hyun Soo is prosecuted for rape, and the person testifying is the 6th and final man alive from that gang rape incident. It is then that the audience and Hyun Soo discover that he was also involved in that incident. Even though he liked the girl, he did nothing but watch when that young girl was raped by his ‘friends’.
Jung Hyun Soo is punished to life in prison for his crimes.
The Chief Prosecutor is also punished for his prosecutorial misconduct throughout his career. He is sentenced to prison.
(One such misconduct is the mistake he made with Bong Hee’s father, who came to beg him many times to fix his errors or his family’s lives would be ruined. He refused.
Another such incident involved Ji Wook’s parents who were killed in a fire. He convinced a young Ji Wook that Bong Hee’s father was the murderer and told him to testify as to such. Ji Wook later remembers that Bong Hee’s father actually saved him, and died in his attempt to save Ji Wook’s parents. Bong Hee has had to deal with living as the daughter of a murderer all her life, which caused Ji Wook extreme guilt.)
Evil is imprisoned.
Justice is served.
And Ji Wook and Bong Hee let go of the past and live happily ever after, living their mundane lives.
I think that Suspicious Partner is worth one watch, and I’d give it a 6/10.
The drama had good acting. Ji Chang Wook and Nam Ji Hyun were perfect for their roles, and I liked the energy that Nam Ji Hyun brought to her character. I liked her as the kickass Bong Hee, who knew how to stand up for herself and her rights. I have to admit that she got on my nerves in the first episode when she unjustly accused an innocent Ji Wook of sexual harassment on the subway, but subsequent events made me soon forget her abrasiveness.
This was my second drama watching Dong Ha (the first being Chief Kim), but he did a great job as the suitably creepy Jung Hyn Soo. His acting when he remembered what part he played in that high school girl’s rape made me even sympathize for him for a very brief moment.
The story itself was interesting enough. Although, I felt that 20 episodes was a bit much. I think they story could have easily fit into 16 episodes, which might have made for a better show.
There were some loopholes though. Even if the writer might not have thought them important, we never figure out what happened between Eun Hyuk and Yoo Jung in the past. All we know is that they didn’t go “all the way” when Ji Wook caught them, but we get nothing as to how they got to that point of betraying their best friend. The two then spend years punishing themselves, until they finally reunite and move forward in their relationship.
Finally, why did Ji Wook’s parent’s die in that fire? Was it an electrical malfunction? Was it arson? Was it a disgruntled criminal? We never get that answer or maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention. But honestly, for a piece of narrative that took up a large part of the drama, there should have been more time spent on the explanation.
As with most Korean dramas, this drama fell into the same tropes of noble idiocy and making decisions for the partner. No talking to them. No asking them what they want? Just taking away their agency, and deciding what’s best for them.
Bong Hee felt guilty about costing Ji Wook his job. She then felt guilty about what her father may or may not have done to Ji Wook’s parents. Each time she stepped away from him and hurt him even more.
The difference between the two of them?
When he realizes that he might have damaged her and her family, he immediately tells her the truth.
She backs away from him, emotionally and physically.
I didn’t like how they changed the energetic Bong Hee we had a beginning to the scared mouse she became for a majority of the drama. If one argues it’s just what life does to you, and especially what her life was doing to her, that doesn’t fly with me. There was a strength in her that overcame a lifetime of stigma of being a murderer’s/arsonist’s daughter. She grew up with a single mother who struggled to raise her. She supported herself and went to law school. She lived through a bad break up. She was strong. And this drama made her pathetic. And that makes me sad.
Despite the increasing bouts of noble idiocy, Suspicious Partner was still worth one watch. Check it out if you have the time.